Unhuman transport: how long will we wait for autopilots? Unhuman transport: how long will we wait for autopilots?

Perhaps, manned means of transport will disappear in future. Electric unmanned cars will reduce the level of air pollution, and there will be no stress while getting to work. Former drivers will be able to read, work, or even sleep when the car takes them to the point of destination.

Kearney asserts that the unmanned transport market worldwide could be valued at $560 billion in the next twenty years. Experts believe that self-driving transport will not only allow consumers to save billions of dollars on insurance and fuel expenses but also to encourage the development of other sectors: smart cities, telecommunications, and AI technologies.

The authors of research stress that, for instance, US consumers will be able to save up to $1.3 trillion per year in case of the mass development of unmanned cars. For example, the decrease of road accidents will help to save $488 billion, while almost $170 billion will be saved on fuel. Another reason for unmanned aerial vehicles spending less amount of fuel is the fact that such cars can get in touch with each other and select the best possible and safest highway speed.

All of this in keeping with the best traditions of futuristic stories. Well, how real is the dream of unmanned driving?

The article reveals what smart car solutions already exist, what we will face in the future, and what consequences we should be afraid of.

Self-driving cars: now you can sleep on your way to work

In autumn 2018, Volvo presented the 360c concept: an unmanned electric car without wheel and pedals. Company’s engineers have introduced a new type of cabin: the seat of their electric car turns into the comprehensive sleeping accommodation.

360c has single gull-wing doors. The 360c model is equipped with LEDs used to inform other travelers of their maneuvers. A great part of the car, including the roof, is made of glass.

Volvo’s engineers have not yet told us about some significant features, for example, the accumulator capacity or the type of autopilot sensors.

Unmanned public transport

At the same, the world’s first unmanned tram equipped with radars, scanners, and cameras are going through the streets of Potsdam (Germany). This equipment transfers information to the on-board computer, allowing the tram to assess a road situation. Therefore, it can not only monitor a situation in the street and pull up at stops but also wait until all the passengers enter the vehicle.

Unmanned public transport will regulate road traffic and reduce accident risks. Nevertheless, it is still unknown when such trams will be brought to the mass production. Currently, there is only one self-driving tram with a driver being constantly behind its wheel in order to take over control in emergency cases.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai have allocated about $410,000 for investigating the prospects of unmanned buses. They will go through the predetermined routes for the first several years.

The city authorities have not yet defined when self-driving means of transport will operate at full capacity. Probably, at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, they will be able to give more accurate dates.

Six-seater unmanned buses designed for the streets of Dubai were produced by US-based Next Future Transportation. They are equipped with electric engines and are able to accelerate to a speed of 50 mph.

According to the RTA’s strategy, 25% of all urban transportation services will be conducted by autonomous transport by 2030. It is noteworthy that this program also includes sea shipping.

Self-driving cargo shipping: new-generation deliveries?

In 2016, the USA carried out the first commercial delivery of goods using the unmanned truck. Otto’s robotic truck overcame 125 miles between two cities, moving with the speed of approximately 55 mph. Although the track traffic was controlled by the driver, his assistance was required only during entering and leaving the highway.

In general, one can already use self-driving means of transport but, as we can see, the majority of UAVs still need control.

When transport of the future will enter our streets: PwC forecasts

According to the PwC study, fully autonomous transport will appear in the world’s largest cities by 2040. Global trends in applying autopilots show that investments in this sector should exceed $80 billion in 2018, the sum invested in the development of AI transport in 2014–2017.

Analysts predict that the interest in this industry won’t calm down for a long time, as the worldwide race for technology growth is still going.

What challenges can be caused by autopilot

On the other hand, the development of unmanned cars is accompanied by a range of ethical issues. It is still unknown who will bear moral, financial, and criminal responsibility for accidents, whom the autopilot will safe in case of inevitable cutting-in, and what drivers will do after losing their jobs.

It means that AI developers, lawyers, and researchers of unmanned transportation will have to do yeoman's work before we could entrust our transport to artificial intelligence.

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